The platform and small business

How does the small-business man feel about the Democratic Party's economic platform? Robert J. Burke, a delegate at the Democratic National Convention and president of Warwood Tool Company of Wheeling, W. Va., answers quickly: "The small-busi ness man is in trouble. So my main concern is whether Jimmy Carter will live up to the platform."

Mr. Burke, who was a Kennedy supporter, says, "We've been unhappy for four years. High interest rates have been strangling us, and Carter's killed the housing industry." Mr. Burke's business is particularly subject to the direction of interest rates, since he makes hammers, sledges, picks, and other forged products used in the construction trades.

Mr. Burke says his own hometown, Wheeling, might become a "ghost town" if some relief isn't given to the ailing steel industry. "Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel has been running in the red," he says on the convention floor, "and I don't know how much longer it can keep doing so."

To help the steel industry, he says, the government should give steel companies the ability to depreciate their equipment faster. This tax break, however, sounds like a page out of the Republicans' platform, not the Democrats'. Either way, he says, the industry needs "action, not talk."

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